Posted on 26/02/2020 by Breeanna Noske
“His palms are sweaty. Knees weak. Arms are heavy. There’s vomit on his sweater already: Mum’s spaghetti. He’s nervous."
Sound familiar? If these lyrics paint a picture of you standing in the waiting room at a job interview, then this is the blog for you.
We are all human beings. And human beings get nervous. It’s just our nature. Job interviews? One of the most nerve wracking experiences you could imagine, up there with public speaking, proposing to your loved one and riding a rollercoaster! And cruelly, it is likely that the more excitement, desire, or desperation you have invested in a role, the more nervous you will be headed into that job interview. So how can we avoid these nerves, and what can you do to overcome them?
From Our Perspective
First off, let us give you an insight into the other side of the desk. As Recruiters, we are meeting with and interviewing up to six applicants a day. Our objective within an interview is to get to know you, get to know your working history, and ascertain if you might be the best fit for our client’s organisation. Now whilst this SOUNDS like we are judging you as a person, what we are ACTUALLY judging is the match between your skill set and your career desires and the person specifications provided by our client. We are genuinely interested in building a connection with you and making sure this placement proves beneficial for both the organisation and yourself. And if this role isn’t the right fit? We want to know what you’re seeking overall so we can assist in matching you to other jobs. We are your friend! Your ally. Not at all a scary enemy.
Does that decrease your nerves a little? Probably not. Because you just want this job so bad. You NEED this job! And you want to perform well. You just want to make a good impression!
“He keeps on forgetting what we wrote down… He opens his mouth but the words won’t come out… The clock’s run out. Time’s up. Over. BLAOW!”
Okay. Well let’s explore some techniques that you can utilise to calm your nerves pre-interview.
Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy explored the effectiveness of “power posing” in her TED Talk ‘Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are’. Cuddy purports the benefits of spending two minutes prior to a job interview or a big speech in a power pose: “chest lifted, head held high, arms either up or propped on the hips” (Read more here). Apparently, this pose has been found to boost testosterone levels and decrease cortisol levels. Who wouldn’t want less stress and an extra boost of confidence before a job interview?!
Our very own Lead Recruitment Consultant Bec has been known to meet candidates in the waiting room prior to them meeting with our clients for interviews and encouraging a power pose. Or at least a couple of arm pumps!
Latter studies have failed to replicate Cuddy’s findings, but even if the pose doesn’t physiologically decrease stress and increase confidence, surely it will give you a bit of a laugh and help ease any nerves, right?
Top Tip: Do your power posing BEFORE heading into the office, so you aren’t caught with your arms in the air in the waiting room by your interviewer!
Another psychological principal to consider is the Yerkes-Dodson Law. This principal provides a bit of comfort by assuring that SOME level of stress, nerves or anxiousness can increase performance. It proposes that there is an optimal level of “arousal” required for peak performance. Have you ever felt that you perform better when under pressure or working to a tight deadline? That’s because the Yerkes-Dodson Law suggests that higher levels of arousal can improve performance (to a point, after which you will witness adverse effects). Additionally, the principal states that the optimal level of arousal required changes depending on the complexity of the task. A simple task will require a higher level of arousal than a complex task.
So how can we apply this to your next job interview? Don’t let the fact that you are nervous raise concern. An appropriate amount of arousal will ensure you perform well! You don’t want to appear tired, apathetic or unenthusiastic!
Additionally, practice, practice, practice! Rehearsing workplace examples and common interview question answers in your head and planning your questions ahead of time will reduce the “complexity” of the task (the job interview), meaning a higher level of arousal will benefit, rather than hinder your performance.
What If I Just Cannot Avoid Nerves?
We say, address them! Sweat patches on your shirt? Cracks in your voice? Your interviewer understands that you are human. Mention the fact that you are nervous and make light of the fact that you are super invested in this opportunity. It will go a long way to building rapport with your interviewer and building your profile as an honest, open and genuine candidate for the job. Plus, a good interviewer, especially overtly being told that you are nervous, should alter their facial expressions, tone of voice, body language and demeanour to accommodate for your nerves and attempt to ease your state of being.
So there you have it! Everybody gets nervous. And everybody has different methods or techniques that work to overcome it. Why not share your tips and tricks with us?! And remember:
“You’d better lose yourself in the moment, you own it, you’d better never let it go. You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime.”
P.S. Shout out to those who recognised the lyrics in this blog. And if you didn't? We're sure you'll still take something away from it!